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African press review 31 May 2012

There are plenty of African presidents on this morning's front pages, starting with two exes, Nelson Mandela and Charles Taylor ... in very different circumstances.


The main story in Zimbabwe's NewsDay reports that former South African president Nelson Mandela made his first appearance for months on television on Wednesday. Mandela, who is 93, was briefly hospitalised in February for a keyhole abdominal examination.

Surrounded by family at his rural home in the town of Qunu, Mandela yesterday received a flame marking the centenary of the African National Congress.

Less happy is former Liberian President Charles Taylor, sentenced to jail for 50 years on Wednesday for helping Sierra Leonean rebels commit what the international court in The Hague called some of the worst war crimes in history.

And Angola's long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has until 19 June to announce whether he will lead his MPLA party in an election to be held in August.

Dos Santos, who has been in power for 32 years, won the first round of a presidential election in 1992, but the run-off was abandoned after rebel group Unita's leader Jonas Savimbi refused to accept the result.

BusinessDay in South Africa tells us that a furious debate on the budget of the presidency yesterday saw the opposition call for President Jacob Zuma to decline a second term of office in the interests of the country.

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko presented a long list of leadership failures by Zuma.

Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota charged that Zuma had betrayed his oath of office to protect the constitution.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said there were signs that Zuma's office was losing its dignity and authority.

Zuma will reply today.

The Kenyan Daily Nation reports that Southern African leaders will meet in Angola later today to discuss the political situation in Zimbabwe, with President Robert Mugabe’s push for elections this year topping the agenda.

The Southern African Development Community Defence and Security group is to review the situation in Zimbabwe ahead of a heads of state and government extraordinary meeting at the weekend.

Officials from President Mugabe’s Zanu PF earlier sought to downplay the summit, saying Zimbabwe was not on the agenda.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he was cutting short his week-long trip to China to attend the emergency summit.

According to the regional paper, The East African, a drop in food prices knocked nearly one percentage point off Kenya’s inflation rate in May.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said inflation stood at 12.2 per cent in May, down from 13 per cent the previous month.

The prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks fell slightly during the period.

Uganda, where inflation slowed to 20.3 per cent last month, expects inflation data to be out Thursday ahead of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting on Friday. Uganda’s Central Bank rate remains stable at 21 per cent.

Despite the drastic measures taken by all the central banks in the region, the rate of inflation has remained stubbornly in the double digit region because of the high cost of imported energy.

African countries should focus on job creation in the private sector by providing the right conditions for businesses to expand and so tackle youth unemployment.

The latest report on the African Economic Outlook released on Monday says African governments need to step up efforts to support small private firms.

The efforts include offering tax incentives and reducing regulatory bottlenecks.

In addition, given the small size of the formal sector in many African countries, governments need to focus on the informal sector and rural areas.

The daily paper Punch in Nigeria reports that the senate of the University of Lagos on Wednesday shut down the 50-year-old institution for two weeks and asked the students to vacate the campus by 11 o’clock this morning.

The closure came on the second day of protest by the students who are against the renaming of the university after the winner of the 1993 presidential election, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday.

Abiola remained president-elect until his death in 1998, as he was denied his mandate when the election results were annulled by outgoing military president Ibrahim Babangida who alleged massive fraud.

Students on Wednesday vowed not to leave the campus.

Nigerian Nobel winner Wole Soyinka writes on the opinion pages of the same paper that  Jonathan has acted in an arbitrary and disrespectful way because he failed to consult or inform the administrators of the university.

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